A few weeks ago, I received a voicemail message from one of our finalists after his interview for this section. He summed up the reason the Missourian started the Progress Awards.

He said, “I don’t get a lot of accolades for what I do in my job.”

We are in our third year of this awards program, and it’s clear there is no shortage of unsung heroes making a difference in our community and moving it forward.

We seek out those who aren’t getting accolades and hope to honor them and tell a bit of their story.

You’ll notice that we did things a little differently this year. In the feedback from last year, we heard that people wanted to know more about some of the other nominees.

For eight of the categories, you will find a Q&A with the winner as well as information about the two finalists. In total, we had 96 nominations, and we put a spotlight on 20 individuals and six organizations.

You might also notice that we have a new category this year. We created a category specifically for the nonprofits working to meet the needs of our community. From the nominations, it’s clear that this will continue to be an important category for the future.

In this section, you have the opportunity to read about a health educator meeting people where they are to manage chronic illnesses, an entrepreneur who considers it her job to help others starting businesses, an artist and volunteer who has dedicated her life to promoting arts in the community, a principal who has created a village for her students that wouldn’t otherwise have one, and a teacher that inspired her students to improve sustainability at school.

We tell you about a city employee who seeks to find ways for more people to have safe and affordable homes, an executive who uses her role to give more opportunities to women- and minority-owned businesses, a nonprofit helping refugees make Columbia home, and a company that built a culture based around giving back and serving the community. Finally, we honor a woman who is bringing joy to people at every opportunity and carrying on the legacy of Sherman Brown Jr.

There are many more stories out there, and we had to make some tough decisions. We gathered editors and the 2018 winners to consider every nominee and select the winners and finalists you will find in this section. We want to be clear that no one who advertises with the Missourian had any say over the winners.

We are excited to introduce you to this year’s 2019 Progress Awards winners, finalists and nominees in this section.

If you think someone is missing in this group, don’t worry. Nominate that someone next year.

  • Missourian director of community outreach and assistant professor at the Missouri School of Journalism

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